Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wine Book Review: 50 einfache Dinge die Sie ueber Wein wissen sollten – 50 simple things you should now about wine

Picture: Wolfgang Staudt, 50 einfache Dinge die Sie ueber Wein wissen sollten

This is at the same time a very entertaining and very educational book. Reading the book is a lot of fun and a serious introduction into the world of wine.

The book is very densely written. Wolfgang Staudt manages to transmit quite a bit of information to the reader. He digs deep, to the benefit of the reader.Wolfgang Staudt knows how to present an issue in a systematic and concise way, whithout becoming too dry. He probably learnt that in his previous life as a political scientist. I appreciate it very much that Wolfgang Staudt is not somebody who likes to gloss over critical issues  - such as the question, why are there Spaetlese (Late Harvest) wines that are fruity-sweet and others bone-dry - in a superficial way.

Wolfgang Staudt has arranged the 271 pages of his book in 50 chapters, starting with “Dry Wine – White, Red, Rose” and ending with “Wine for Dessert – A Smooth Finish”. The 50 chapters are grouped under seven main headings.

First, Wolfgang Staudt begins with a series of chapters that all come under the heading: “Wine – what is it all about? A Systematization for an seemingly confusing diversity.”

Picture: Wolfgang Staudt

This series of chapters starts out with a chapter on dry wine and clearly states that wine is typically dry, if you leave it to Mother Nature. In order to have a sweet wine in the glass, special factors, like stopping the fermentation or the noble rot need to come into play. The different approaches are reviewed in the second chapter. Then, he moves on to sparkling wines and fortified wines, and concludes with a chapter on distilled wines. On these first 15 pages, you already get a pretty good introduction into the world of wine.

Second and third, the next 2 groups of chapters provide an introduction to tasting and appreciating a wine with the eyes, your noseyou’re your mouth. Wolfgang Staudt teaches you the basics of wine tasting and helps you become a better wine taster. You learn how to distinguish wines based on acidity, tannins, sweetness, aroma, and body.

Fourth, the following 3 chapters try to give the wine drinker a handle on how to read a wine label. The focus is on German wines - not only the classification of 1971, but also the new approach of the VDP, Germany’s association of elite wine makers. In addition, the wines of France, Spain and Italy - the most important imported wines in Germany - are also briefly covered.

Picture: Wolfgang Staudt

Fifth, the following 7 chapters come under the heading: Genesis of Wine - Here, Wolfgang Staudt ties together three areas: he provides an overview of the different grape varieties that exist in the world. He reviews the various wine producing regions in the world. And he discusses in one chapter, what the vintner can do in the vineyard and in another chapter what the winemaker can do in the cellar to influence his final product, the wine.

Sixth, then follow a number of chapters on how to serve wine and how to enjoy wine with others. These chapters contain a lot of bits and pieces and I found them the least fascinating chapters. I would cut this series of chapters back in a forthcoming revised edition. But other reads might enjoy the subjects more than I do.

Seventh, the last 10 chapters, also perhaps a bit on the long side, review the question of matching food and wine. It goes into topics such as “Fish and Wine – White Wine a Must?” and “Wine and Dessert – A Round Finish”.

Picture: Wolfgang Staudt

Overall, this is a book that could usefully be used as a companion book for a wine class. But it is not at all targeted for a newcomer. I think also an experienced wine drinker will find quite a bit of information that he or she might find useful.

Staudt's Weinkalender 2013

Wolfgang Staudt has also issued his first pocket calendar for wine lovers, which I have reviewed here: Book Review: Staudt’s Weinkalender 2013 – Staudt’s Pocket Wine Calender 2013

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

German Wine Basics: How does a sweet German Riesling become sweet?

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

The VDP - the Powerful Group of German Elite Winemakers - Refines its Classification System, Germany

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars and Other Places where you can have Wine in Mainz, Germany

At the Forefront of Biodynamic Winemaking: Visiting Werner and Angela Michlits and their Weingut Meinklang in Austria

Wine Producer Austria - Not Only Gruener Veltliner

North Gate Vineyard in Virginia, USA – A Profile

Champagne – An Introduction, France

The World Class Wines of Alsace

Bordeaux Wines and their Classifications: The Basics

Vin Bio de Bordeaux - At Château Beauséjour in AOC Puisseguin-St.Emilion, France

What is a Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois? France

Visiting Kelly and Tim Hightower and their Hightower Cellars in Washington State, USA

Lunch with Pinot Noir Giant Walter Schug in Sonoma, California

The Wines of Istvan Stephan Spiegelberg in Somlo, Hungary

How Recioto di Soave - a Dessert Wine - is Made: In Le Sponde Room of the Coffele Winery in Soave, Italy

The Wines of Madagascar

Wine Producer Missouri – Once a Major Force in the US Wine Market, Then Non-existant and Now on a Rebound with French American Hybrid Grapes 

Monday, October 29, 2012

The American Art of Joanne Roberts Wittauer and the Austrian Wines of Klaus Wittauer – A Taste of Art and Wines at the Curious Grape in Shirlington in the Washington DC Area, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller, Annette Schiller (Ombiasy Wine Tours), Joanne Roberts Wittauer and Klaus Wittauer at the the Curious Grape

I am interested in modern art and I am interested in good wine. Well, at the recent reception at the Curious Grape in Sherlington (Washington DC area) I had it both: I enjoyed the affordable, delicious and memorable Austrian wines of Austrian “Wine Ambassador” Klaus Wittauer and I enriched my senses with the colorful, modern art of artist Joanne Roberts Wittauer.

The Artist Joanne Roberts Wittauer

Joanne’s work is colorful, smooth and often incorporates wine-related themes – a natural for her since she’s married to Klaus! Joanne and Klaus met in the Bermudas, were we has working as a Sommelier and she was visiting as a tourist.

"We couldn't be happier about displaying the art of local artist Joanne Roberts Wittauer! Bold, modern, color-splashed, Joanne's art perfectly complements and completes the decor of our store and restaurant" said Suzanne McGrath, the co-owner of The Curious Grape.

Pictures: The Art of Joanne Roberts Wittauer

Joanne says about her art: “The world is full of Artists, many of whom I have learned from and many who I continue to create with.  I am an Artist who creates in the unknown, because I never know what I will paint. For me this is exciting and challenging at the same time. It is very relaxing and I find peace while creating with no restrictions. I owe my passion to my father who was a peacemaker, my teacher and one of the great Masters.

The world to me is in constant abstraction. Through painting, I am an artist who shows feeling, movement, expression, passion and fulfillment of being able to be free. Each painting comes from the work of the unknown, for I am not a planner. I have no idea of when, what or how I will paint. I create whenever the spirit moves me. I like the process and experience of creation without knowing. Painting for me is all about spiritual connections without any constraints.

Pictures: Joanne Roberts Wittauer

My medium of choice is acrylic, but I also like to use pen, ink, pastels and other objects that I choose at the moment.  My passion in art as well as my husband’s passion for wine has proven to be delicious and wonderful creations for us. We enjoy sharing and tasting our creations with others.”

Joanne started to paint 8 years ago and had her first exhibition in 2004 - In the Cellar Gardens, Art and Wine, East Hampton, NY. Since then she had on average 4 exhibitions per year, on both sides of the Atlantic. The most recent in Europe was at the Anton Bauer Winery in Feuersbrunn, Austria.

"Wine Ambassador" Klaus Wittauer

Klaus and I go back many years. He was born in Austria and attended Hotel and Restaurant Management School in Salzburg. He then worked for many years in some of the world‘s top restaurants in Austria, Bermuda and the United States, including the lovely L‘Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Virginia, where we first met. Then he moved to the trade side and became the wine buyer for Sutton Place Gourmet (today: Balducci) in Washington DC before creating his own export company in Austria with renowned Austrian winemaker Anton Bauer about ten years ago. At the same time, he created KWSELECTION in the US.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller, Annette Schiller, Joanne Roberts Wittauer and Klaus Wittauer at the the Curious Grape and at the Austrian Embassy in Washington DC

Today, KWSELECTION includes top producers from most of the wine producing areas of Austria: Anton Bauer from Donauland, Leo Hillinger from Burgenland, Gustav Strauss from Styria, Martin Mittelbach from Wachau, Karl & Brigitta Steininger from Kamptal, Steindorfer from Neusiedlersee, Proidl from Kremstal , Meinklang from Burgenland, Joseph Bauer from Donauland and, this his most recent addition, Weingut Netzl from Carnuntum.

As an Austrian married to an American, Klaus has a close relationship with all of his wineries in Austria and has succeed in expanding distribution throughout the United States, with a strong focus on the East Coast.

What Klaus poured and what he had to say about his Wines

Steininger Burgunder Sekt 2009

Rich yellow color; complex scents of marzipan, pears and bananas;  noble balance between the three grape varieties of Burgundy (Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir)

Tegernseerhof T 26 Grüner Veltliner 2011 (Federspiel)

The vineyard is called Frauenweingarten. When we tasted this wine the first time in 2006 it was in tank #26. Very aromatic, full of round fruit balanced with crisp acidity. The distinct soil lends a pleasant mineral and the tropical fruit play is balanced with the white pepper note typical of this varietal. Pairs well with a wide range of foods including Asian cuisine and fish with fresh herbs.

Steindorfer Pinot Gris Fuchsloch 2011

Fermented in 80% stainless and 20% French oak to achieve a balance of crisp acidity and complexity. Beautiful aromas of stone fruits, fresh butter a touch of smoke leading to a full palate with clean minerality, tropical notes and a long crisp finish - more Oregon in style than Italy. Try it with bacon wrapped scallops or fleshy fish like Mahi and Halibut.

Steininger Zweigelt 2010

This is a delicious and impressively concentrated Zweigelt. Its flavor of black raspberry is underlined by good acidity. It feels seamless and silky and ripe, supple tannins beautifully support the richness.  A great value!

Anton Bauer Wagram Cuvee 15 2009

Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch blend Radiant ruby; cherry fruit with amaretto tones, red berries and herbs; on the palate again cherry fruit with dark berry aromas and a pleasant background of herbs, good extract fruit, fine tannin; finishes with dry elegance and delicately herb tones of chocolate and cherries. Although absolutely delicious on its own, it will complement beef, duck, grilled pork, tuna and rich red sauces.

The Curious Grape

The Curious Grape reopened as a wine store and restaurant in Shirlington recently. The wine shop traded its former location for a much bigger location a couple of blocks away, at 2900 S. Quincy Street. The larger space has allowed owners Suzanne McGrath and Katie Park to reinvent their store as “The Curious Grape Wine, Dine & Shop,” complete with a sit-down restaurant, coffee and wine bar, and fresh, house-made pastry selection. As before, The Curious Grape also sells wine, beer, cheese and other gourmet items retail.

Pictures: The Curious Grape

schiller-wine: Related Postings

“Wine Ambassador” Klaus Wittauer Presented Austrian Wines at the Embassy of Austria in Washington DC, USA

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars and Other Wine Spots in Vienna, Austria

Welcome to America: Franz and Christine Netzl Estate, Carnuntum, Austria

Producing Wines in Austria and Hungary - Franz and Franz Reinhard Weninger

With the WienWein Winemakers in Vienna in the Heurigen Drinking Gemischter Satz Wine

Tasting Leo Hillinger Red Wines with Leo Hillinger’s Assistant Winemaker Michael Hoeffken and US Importer Klaus Wittauer

Visiting Leo Hillinger, Michael Hoeffken and Edgar Brutler at the Leo Hillinger Winery in Jois, Austria

Wine Producer Austria - Not Only Gruener Veltliner

At the Forefront of Biodynamic Winemaking: Visiting Werner and Angela Michlits and their Weingut Meinklang in Austria

Visiting Christine, Christina and Franz Netzl in their Weingut Netzl in Carnuntum, Austria

Visit: Gerhard Wohlmuth sen. and his Weingut Wohlmuth in Austria

Meeting Gerhard Wohlmuth jun. from Weingut Wohlmuth, Austria, and Tasting his Wines in Washington DC

Meeting a Wine Maker and an Art Lover: Gerhard Wohlmuth sen., Weingut Wohlmuth, Austria

Austria’s Best Wines and Winemakers - Falstaff WeinGuide 2010 

Austria’s Best Wines and Winemakers - Falstaff WeinGuide 2011

Austria’s Best Wines and Winemakers - Falstaff WeinGuide 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

French Champagne Houses and German Roots

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller in Reims, Champagne, France

Champagne, made in the méthode champenoise with grapes grown in the Champagne region in France, is without any doubt the most famous sparkler in the world. Interestingly, the roots of many Champagne Houses are in Germany.


The Champagne region lies at the northern edge of the world’s vineyard-growing areas. So, Champagne’s grapes bear the hallmark acidity of a cool climate region. In 1927, the viticultural boundaries of Champagne were legally defined and split into five wine producing districts - The Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne. The Champagne area covers 33,500 hectares of vineyards around 319 villages that are home to 100 Champagne Houses that buy grapes and make their own Champagne, 5,000 growers who grow grapes and make their own wine and 14,000 growers who only sell grapes. The region is set to expand to include 359 villages in the near future.


Champagne first gained world renown because of its association with the French Court. Royalty from throughout Europe spread the message of the unique sparkling wine from Champagne and its association with luxury and power in the 17th, 18th and 19th century.

The Ruinart Champagne House was the first Champagne House founded in 1729, soon followed by Taittinger (1734), Moët et Chandon (1743), Veuve Clicquot (1772) and others.

Sparkling wine houses sprung up all over Europe in the 1800s. In Germany, Kessler, was the first Sekt house, founded in 1826 by Georg Kessler, who had worked for Veuve Clicqot. Fürst von Metternich started to produce Sekt in a beautiful castle overlooking the Rhein river in the Rheingau. Von Metternich received the castle from the Austrian Emperor Franz I in 1816 as a gift for his skillful negotiations as his Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Vienna congress (1814 -15).

In Austria, the German Robert Schlumberger moved from the Champagne region with his future wife to Vienna and established in 1842 a Sekt House there. Schlumberger was born in Germany, worked in Reims in a Champagne house and married an Austrian, who brought him to the capital of Austria. There, he rose quickly and became the “father” of the Austrian Sekt industry. For over 150 years Schlumberger has been producing their Sekts in the méthode champenoise. See: German Wine Makers in the World: Robert Alwin Schlumberger--the Father of Austrian Sekt (Austria)

German Roots

Many famous Champagne Houses have German roots.


Veuve Clicquot's cellar master, the German Anton Mueller, who invented the remuage technique, married into the Ruinart family. With the Ruinart daughter, Anton Mueller created his own Champagne House, Ruinart-Mueller, which does not exist anymore. While at the helm of Ruinart-Mueller, his compatriot Bollinger was one of his employees, before leaving Ruinart-Mueller and setting up his own Champagne House.


Bollinger joined Mueller-Ruinart in 1822 to sell their Champagne in the Kingdoms of Bavaria, Hanover, Wuerttemberg and the Netherlands. In 1829, with his Mueller-Ruinart colleague Paul Renaudin de Villermont and with Athanase Hennequin de Villermont, Joseph-Jacob Bollinger (he took the name of Jacques Bollinger when he was naturalised French in 1854) formed the Renaudin-Bollinger Champagne House which would become the famous Bollinger Champagne House.


The Champagne House Mumm was founded in Reims in 1827 by the 3 German brothers Gottlieb, Jacobus and Philipp Mumm; they named it Champagne House P.A. Mumm, after their father, the German banker and wine merchant P. A. Mumm. After the death of Gottlieb Mumm, the Champagne House P.A. Mumm was broken up into two: G. H. Mumm + Co. (named after Gottlieb Mumm’s son Georg Hermann) and Jules Mumm + Co. (named after Jacobus Mumm’s son Julius Engelbert).

Jules Mumm created the famous Mumm Cordon Rouge in France. In 1910, after the dissolution of Jules Mumm + Co., G. H. Mumm + Co bought back the rights of the brand Jules Mumm. So, all the Mumm brands were again in one hand at that point.

Following the end of World War I, the French Government confiscated all of the Mumm's property, although the Mumms had lived in Champagne for almost a century, because they had never bothered to become French citizens. The Mumm family returned to Germany and settled in Frankfurt am Main.

In 1922, the Sekt House Mumm + Co. was founded in Germany by Godefroy H. von Mumm. In 1970, the Canadian Seagram Group bought both the French Champagne House G.H. Mumm and the German Sekt House Mumm + Co.

In 2002, the Canadian Seagam Group decided to divest from both the French and the German Mumm branches. Pernod Ricard bought the Champage House G.H. Mumm and Rotkaeppchen bought the German Sekt House Mumm + Co, including Jules Mumm.

See: Visiting Rotkaeppchen-Mumm - the Second Largest Producer of Sparkling Wine in the World - in Freyburg (Saale-Unstrut), Germany


Krug was established in 1843 by Johann-Joseph Krug, a German from Mainz. Johann-Joseph learned his trade at the Champagne House Jacquesson before setting up Krug in Reims. His son, Paul continued the family business, who was succeeded by his son, Joseph Krug II in 1910. Today, Krug is part of the global luxury brands conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH).

Pictures: Ambonnay in the Montagne de Reims region. Grapes from Ambonnay are the source of Krug's Clos d'Ambonnay Champagne. This single vineyard Champagne is the rarest (and most expensive) in the world. Produced from 1 1/2 acres of Pinot Noir, only 3000 bottles are made from 11 tiny 200 liter Krug casks. The Clos has been around since the year 1700, and the Krug family has been getting the grapes from here for three generations. In 1994 they bought the vineyard and changed the pruning methods and made their first single vineyard wine from the Clos the following year- the 1995, which currently sells for $ 2500.

Veuve Cliquot-Ponsardin

The Champagne House Veuve Clicquot was for many years owned by Eduard Werle from Germany. It operated under the name Werlé & Cie., Successeurs de Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin for 100 years.

Originally, the Clicquot company, established in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot, was dealing not only in champagne, but principally in textiles and finance. In 1801, Philippe handed control of the company to his son, François. At that time, François was already married to Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin, the future Veuve Clicquot. Veuve Clicquot played an important role in establishing Champagne as a favored drink of haute bourgeoisie and nobility throughout Europe, including Russia.

When a financial crisis hit the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne house, Eduard Werle was already a wealthy senior manager and ready to assume responsability. The decline of the finances could have meant the end of the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne house, were it not for the fact that Eduard Werle succeeded in putting together a rescue package and paying off the firm's debts with his own money. In return, he was made a business partner by Madame Clicquot in 1828. Over the coming years, she increasingly relied on Eduard Werle as he put the company back on a sound footing.

During the French Revolution of 1830, the July Revolution, which saw the overthrow of King Charles X, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis-Philippe, the Duc d’Orleans, Eduard Werle temporarily had to relocate and abandoned the company to go back to Germany. But after the revolution, he returned to Reims to continue to run the finances of the company. He became Deputy Director in 1831. In 1836, he married M. Boisseau.

Eduard Werle assumed full control of the Veuve Clicquot estate in 1841 upon Nicole-Barbe's retirement, 20 years after he had joined the company as a cellar man. 25 years later, when Madame Clicquot died in 1866, in her will, she did not give the company to her daughter or her son-in-law. She was so grateful to Eduard Werle that she made him the sole owner of the Veuve Clicquot estate.

The Champagne House was renamed Werlé & Cie., Successeurs de Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, when Eduard became the sole owner. The Champagne house continued to operate under this name until 1964, when it became Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin again. Since 1987 the Veuve Clicquot company has been part of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group.

See: German Wine Makers in the World: Eduard Werle --- Owner of the Veuve Cliquot Champagne house (France)

3rd Annual Champagne Day

Today, October 26, 2012 is the 3rd Annual Champagne Day. For more, see: 3rd Annual Champagne Day on October 26th, 2012, France

In order to participate, all you have to do is get some Champagne in your glass today and share your photos, tasting notes, experiences or videos on any social media site. Be sure to add the #ChampagneDay hashtag, so your friends from around the globe can share in the fun.

You'll be able to search what other wine lovers are sharing by searching posts using tools like Tweetdeck, Google, twitterfall.com, hootsuite.com or kurrently.com to name a few. This is a global event set to run 24 hours in order to give everyone time to share a glass when it makes sense in their time zone.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

The Amazing Champagnes of the St. Pancras Grand Champagne Bar in London – But no English or Other Sparklers

Champagne in Russia

Barth Primus is Germany's First Sekt Made with an Erstes Gewaechs Base Wine

In the Glass: Volker Raumland Sekt Estate - The Discovery of the Year, Eichelmann 2010

German Wine Basics: Sekt

Nyetimber's Classic Cuvee 2003 from England has been Crowned Champion of Worldwide Sparkling Wines

Visiting Rotkaeppchen-Mumm - the Second Largest Producer of Sparkling Wine in the World - in Freyburg (Saale-Unstrut), Germany

Saint Valentine's Day: French Champagne, German Sekt or Virginia Sparkler!

The Up and Coming Premium Sparklers of Franciacorta (#EWBC), Italy

The Premium Sparklers of il Mosnel, Franciacorta, Italy

Italy's Prosecco

German Wine Makers in the World: The Korbel Brothers from Bohemia Introduced "Champagne" to the US

German Wine Makers in the World: Anton Mueller Invented the Remuage Technique Revolutionizing Sparkling Wine Drinking, 1800s, France

German Wine Makers in the World: Eduard Werle --- Owner of the Veuve Cliquot Champagne house (France)

German Wine Makers in the World: Robert Alwin Schlumberger--the Father of Austrian Sekt (Austria)

As Close as You Can Get to Champagne – Claude Thibaut and His Virginia Thibaut Janisson Sparklers at screwtop Wine Bar, USA

Blogging, Wining and Dining at the European Wine Bloggers Conference (#EWBC) October 2011 in Brescia, Italy – A Tour D’ Horizont

3rd Annual Champagne Day on October 26th, 2012, France

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Schiller in the Glass in Stuttgart, Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with a Schiller

My daughter Katharina is currently doing a Masters at the University Hohenheim in Stuttgart in the region of Württemberg in the south of Germany. There, you can find a wine that has the same name as my daughter and I have – Schiller. It is produced by blending red and white grapes before fermentation. Ideally, the Schiller is a field blend, i.e. red and white grapes are planted in mixed lots in the vineyards and are harvested and fermented together. I am not aware of any producer who makes his Schiller as a field blend, but in the old days it was the rule. And it was a very special field blend as it comprised red and white grapes.

The name of the wine has nothing to do with the famous German poet Friedrich von Schiller (although he is from Württemberg). The wine got its name from the verb “schillern”. The verb "schillern" means "to scintillate". Schiller, or Schillerwein, is thus a wine with a scintillating color, reflecting the fact that the wine is a blend of red and white grapes.

Rosé and Schiller

There are basically two ways of producing wine that is in-between red and white wine and often called rosé wine. First, using red grapes, but limiting the skin contact of the juice during fermentation so that only a small part of the red color is extracted from the skin and the wine thus has a rosé color. Second, blending white and red grapes before fermentation or red and white wines after fermentation.

Pictures: Schiller in a Wine Tavern in Stuttgart, Germany

Most of the Rosés on the market these days are wines that are produced 100 percent out of red grapes. Blending finished white and red wines is outlawed in many countries. Interestingly, it is allowed for producing Rosé Champagne and other sparkling wine in France. Blending white and red grapes before fermentation to make rosé-type wines is a specialty in a number of countries, including Germany.

Weinrallye #56 Gemischter Satz – Field Blend

This posting is being published as part of the Weinrallye, a monthly blog event in Germany. Participating wine bloggers - mainly in Germany - are all releasing postings today under the heading “Gemischter Satz – Field Blend”. Weinrallye is the brainchild of Thomas Lippert, a winemaker and wine blogger based in Heidelberg, Germany. The first wine rally took place in 2007. Thomas Lippert is the author of the wine blog Winzerblog. This month's wine rally is organized by the Baccantus  Blog, which is run by Stefan Schwytz and Matthias Lubner.

Some people argue that Gemischter Satz is the true terroir wine. They say that winemakers can resort today to all sorts of tricks if the wine does not come out the way they want it. They can add acid if necessary, or tannins, or color, compensating in the wine cellar for what they did not get from nature in the vineyard. In the old days before the advanced techniques of today became available, they had to think ahead about what their vineyard would give them. One could say that in the way they planted the vineyard you could see their vision of what would make the most complete wine. Going back to Schiller, if they wanted to make a Rose-type wine, they had to plant red and white grapes.

In France, Jean-Michel Deiss from the Domaine Marcell Deiss is a well known proponent of this approach. Jean-Michel Deiss believes that the truest expression of Alsatian terroir comes from field blends. He has planted his best vineyards with numerous grapes, which he harvests and vinifies together. Jean-Michel Deiss treats them as a true field blend, and consequently harvests, vinifies and blends them together. Jean-Michel Deiss' approach is viewed by many as radical. He argues that his goal is a return to the methods, style, and traditions that gave Alsace wines such fame and fortune from the Middle Ages until the end of the 19th century.

Indeed, the Gemischter Satz practice was common throughout Central Europe in a time when most growers had very small vineyards. To reduce the risk of having no grapes - and no income - at all, they planted many varieties. It also was viewed as an approach that produces over the years a wine with consistent quality. To achieve this, they mixed varieties with a different ripening time and with different acidity levels, with a view of minimizing risk and ensuring a consistent quality of wine.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Wine basics: Field Blends

With the WienWein Winemakers in Vienna in the Heurigen Drinking Gemischter Satz Wine

Woelffer Wines from Long Island, New York State

Schillerwein---a German Speciality

In the Glass: 2008 Gemischter Satz, Richard Zahel, Vienna, Austria

In the Glass: 2007 Edelzwicker

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Virginia Wine Lover Magazine Wine Classic 2012 - Results, USA

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Chris Pearmund from Pearmund Cellars - one of six Platinum Award Winners.

The fifth Virginia Wine Lover Magazine Wine Classic, organized by the Virginia Wine Lover Magazine, took place in Suffolk, in the south of Virginia during the day of Monday, 21 May. Annette Schiller and I were judges at the contest. For more, see: Judging Virginia Wines in Suffolk, Virginia - Virginia Wine Lover Magazine Wine Classic 2012

The results were released in the Summer/Fall 2012 issue of the Virginia Wine Lover Magazine.

Pictures: The Full Article in the Summer/Fall 2012 issue of the Virginia Wine Lover Magazine

Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal Awards

All submitted wines got an award: either a platinum, gold, silver or bronze medal award. There were multiple winners in each category. Following the tasting, the Virginia Wine Lover Magazine tallied each judge’s evaluation and came up with an average and placed each evaluation in one of four categories:

90% or higher: Platinum
70 to 89%: Gold
50 to 69%: Silver
49% or lower: Bronze

The results were only released Virginia Wine Lover Magazine. An electronic version of it is available on the internet.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Frank Morgan, Contributing Editor and Patrick Evans-Hylton, Executive Editor, both Virginia Wine Lover Magazine, at the 5. Virginia Wine Lover Magazine Wine Classic

Picture: Annette Schiller (Ombiasy Wine Tours) and Christian G.E. Schiller - Summer/Fall 2012 issue of the Virginia Wine Lover Magazine

6 Platinum Awards

6 wines were in the 90% or higher category and received a platimun award.

Chatham Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, 2009-2010 Blend
Fox Meadow Winery, Cabernet Franc Reserve, 2009
Naked Mountain Winery, Chardonnay 2009 Barrel Fermented
Pearmund Cellars, Malbec 2010, Mt. Juliet Vineyard
Rosemont Vineyards, Cabernet Franc 2009
Vint Hill Craft Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Crown Orchard

Judging in Suffolk, Virginia

The tasting was a one day event. We started at 10:00 am and we finished at around 4:00 pm, including a lunch break. We were 11 judges, with most of the judges from the restaurant scene in the Norfolk/Suffolk/Virginia Beach area.

There were about 200 red and white wines. Half of us tasted and rated the red wines and the other half tasted and rated the white wines. I was in the red wine group.

The wines were judged, double-blind, using the modified Davis 20-Point system by a panel evaluating each on their relative merits within their category. The Davies system assigns a certain number of points to each of its 10 categories ranging from bouquet to color to taste to aftertaste.

Pictures: From the Summer/Fall 2012 issue of the Virginia Wine Lover Magazine

Wine Producer Virginia

Virginia is the 5th largest wine industry in the US, with nearly 200 wineries and 2,500 acres of vineyards.

In the original charter of the thirteen colonies was a royal commission to pursue three luxury items that England was unable to provide for itself: wine, silk, and olive oil. Every colony made attempts to satisfy the requirements of its charter. Despite many years of failure, the early Americans persisted in their efforts. A big step forward was made in 1740 when a natural cross pollination occurred between a native American grape and a European vitis vinifera. Other successful crossings followed.

In 1762, John Carter, who had 1,800 vines growing at Cleve Plantation, sent 12 bottles to the Royal Society of Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce in London for their evaluation. Minutes of their meeting on the 20th of October 1762 declared Carter’s wines to be “excellent” and a decision was taken to reward Carter’s efforts with a gold medal for his wines. These were the first internationally recognized fine wines produced in America.

Over the past 30 years or so, Virginia wines have experienced a tremendous development - to elegant and balanced, mostly European vinifera-based wines. Recently, Donald Trump as well as AOL founder Steve Case bought a Virginia winery.

Today, the vitis vinifera grapes Chardonnay and Viognier are the leading white varieties.Increasingly they are made without any or with neutral oak, to retain natural acidity and freshness. It appears Viognier is on its way to becoming Virginia’s official “signature grape”.

For French-American hybrid varieties, Seyval Blanc is still popular, but resembles now the fresh and crisp wines from France’s South West. Vidal has become the backbone of the artificially frozen (cryoextraction), ice wine which I am not a great fan of.  Cryoextraction is an approach, developed by the French, which kind of simulates the frost in the vineyard in the wine cellar.

As far as red wines are concerned, there has been a shift from straight varietal wines to blends, with the blends now being dominated by Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Mirroring the Virginia white wines, there is an increasing focus on neutral oak and clean, vibrant fruit.

Tannat, Uruguay’ signature grape from the South West of France, is showing up in more Virginia wines, usually as a blend. The only red French American hybrid which has performed consistently well in Virginia is Chambourcin, which resembles the Gamay grape of Beaujolais.

Finally, Claude Thibault, a native from France, has taken Virginia sparkling wines to a new level. His NV Thibault-Janisson Brut, made from 100 percent Chardonnay, which President Obama offered his guests at his first state dinner, is as close as you can get to Champagne outside of France. See more: As Close as You Can Get to (French) Champagne at the US East Coast – Claude Thibaut and His Virginia Thibaut Janisson Sparklers at screwtop Wine Bar

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Touring Virginia Wineries - Fabbioli Cellars, 8 Chains North and Breaux Vineyards - with Virginia Wine Expert Allan Liska

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

At the VDP Autumn Wine Auction at Eberbach Abbey in the Rheingau, 2012, Germany

Pictures Christian G.E. Schiller at the September 2012 VDP Wine Auction at Kloster Eberbach, above with Melanie Stumpf, Weingut Bickel Stumpf at the Pre-auction Tasting

The traditional wine auctions of the German premium wine producers in the Mosel, Rheingau and Nahe regions take place in March and at the end of September. This year, I had the opportunity to participate in the September wine auction in the Rheingau.

Five Wine Auctions

Five wine auctions are held every year in Germany, where the premier German wine producers auction off some of the best young wines, as well as some older wines. Four of the five auctions are arranged by the regional associations of the Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter (VDP).

Pictures: At the Pre-auction Tasting, Annette Schiller with Johannes Eser, Weingut Johanneshof in Johannisberg and Wilhelm Weil, Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich

These auctions differ from wine auctions on the second-hand market held by auction houses, where collectible wines are sold by private or corporate owners, since it is "first hand" wines that are sold. The wines of the newest vintage predominate, supplemented by a limited number of rarities.

Pictures: At the Pre-auction Tasting - Stefan Ress, Weingut Balthasar Ress in Hattenehim with Annette and Christian Schiller

The five auctions that are held annually are:


The Hessische Staatsweingüter, the Hessian State Wineries (a government-owned VDP member), auction wines from their Rheingau and Hessische Bergstrasse operations at Kloster Eberbach in Rheingau.

Late September, on four consecutive days:

Thursday: Bernkasteler Ring in Mosel holds an auction, usually at Kloster Machern in Bernkastel-Wehlen.

Friday: VDP Grosser Ring in Mosel holds an auction, usually in the congress centre Europahalle in Trier.

Saturday: VDP Rheingau holds an auction at Kloster Eberbach.

Sunday: VDP Nahe-Ahr holds an auction, usually at Römerhalle ("Roman Hall") in Bad Kreuznach.

This year, as in the past two years, Franconian estates accepted the invitation to auction their members’ wines at the September Rheingau auction, while in Bad Kreuznach, there were a few top-quality wines on offer from VDP colleagues in Rheinhessen and the Pfalz.

Pictures: Lunch at the Auction with Golf Yip, MeinWein from Hong Kong

Often, young wines achieve new world records at these auctions. In 2000, for example, a 1999 Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese from the Rheingau estate Weingut Robert Weil fetched DM 6,235 per bottle, while in 2001, a 750-ml bottle of 1994 Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese from Weingut Egon Müller-Scharzhof of Wiltingen on the Saar topped that record with DM 9,228.

Pictures: Before and During the Auction

The absolute record was set in 1987, when one bottle of 1735 Johannisberger Riesling from Weingut Schloss Schönborn fetched DM 53,00 (ca. €26,000). The winning bid was placed by a German-Canadian businessman.

Auction Procedures

All auctions include a morning pre-tasting of all wines – except for rarities and single-bottle lots. During the actual auction itself, these wines are poured again and can be sampled before the auctioneer begins the bidding (wet wine auction).

Pictures: The Commissioners in Final Negotiations

The exact auction procedures vary somewhat between the different regional auctions, but have several things in common. The wines put up for auction must be approved by a tasting panel before being admitted to the auction. After that, a calling price is decided upon after a tasting by commissioners.

Pictures: Christian Ress, Weingut Balthasar Ress and his Wine

The wine makers do not sell their wines to the individual participants of the auction, but rather to approved commissioners, who act as intermediaries and cast the actual bids at the auction. These number about 10 per auction. The commissioners collect bids from the interested buyers before and during the auction. In most cases, a wine lot will be divided among several commissioners, with one of them as lead buyer. Commissioners charge around five percent of the auction price for their services.

The 2012 September Auction at Kloster Eberbach

My wife Annette and I arrived at around 10:00 am and spent the next couple of hours tasting the wines that were auctioned off in the afternoon and chit-chatting with the winemakers and others who were present.

Then we all had a hearty lunch – a soup – with VDP wines.

Pictures: Norberth Barth, Wein- und Sektgut Barth in Hattenheim and his Primus Sekt

The auction started at 1:00 pm and ended at 5:00 pm. 41 lots were auctioned off, that means, on average it took 6 minutes for each wine and 1 hour for 10 wines. Except for a few, all wines were also poured. You had plenty of time to evaluate the wine. My neighbor, Guiseppe Lauria from the Gault Millau WeinGuide took extensive notes. While we were tasting, the Auctioneer Dr. Leo Gros would ask the winemaker to join him on the stage, he would say a few words about the wine and the winemaker and then end with a funny story or something like that.

Pictures: Weingut Robert Weil 2011 Kiedricher Graefenberg Auslese

Then, the bidding would begin. Initially, the commissioners would remain in their seat, but when it would get towards the final price they would get up and assemble around the Dr. Leo Gros and talk to each other and sometimes also to the winemaker. I am not exactly sure what was happening then.

3706 bottles were auctioned off in 41 lots. The gross revenues were Euro 136.941.

Pictures: Desiree Eser, Weingut August Eser in Oestrich Winkel - Her 1973 Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Eiswein-Auslese went for Euro 380

The highest price of the entire auction weekend was reached at Kloster Eberbach. Visitors responded with thunderous applause when one 0.7-liter bottle of 1953 Hochheimer Domdechaney Riesling Auslese from the Hessian State Domain came under the hammer for Euros 4000 (Euros 4,998 including 5% commission and 19% VAT).

Picture: Hessische Staatsweingueter 1953 Hochheimer Domdechaney

I must say, the auction at Kloster Eberbach was extremely lively. People would sip, talk to their neighbors and laugh about the jokes of the auctioneer. My facebook friend xxx who attended all 3 VDP auctions of the weekend told me that this one was the liveliest of the 3 auctions. The Mosel auction was much more toned down. But this is not surprising as at the Mosel auction the share of foreigners in the audience was much higher than at the Rheingau auction – many people could there not comprehend the very entertaining little speeches of the auctioneer.

Video of the VDP 2012 September Wine Auction in Trier

The VDP Mosel has produced a nice video of the VDP 2012 September Wine Auction in Trier.

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